All morning, as India were shot out for a paltry 76, one man was missing in action. Dhiraj Parsana, the curator, was not taking phone calls, could not be found at the ground and you could understand the tricky situation he found himself in.
For long now it has been the practice in Indian cricket — and this is more of a sub-continental phenomenon than a universal practice — for captains and coaches to ask for certain kinds of wickets and get them. Not this time round.
Parsana set out to prepare a pitch that would last all five days, and is quietly confident he has achieved this. “I am satisfied with the way the pitch has played,” he said at the end of the first day, reluctantly speaking. “I feel pain for the Indian team the way the batting collapsed. But this wicket will not crumble.”
Parsana earlier got a resounding thumbs-up from Dale Steyn, who rocked India’s boat with 5 for 23. “I was surprised (by the pitch). I haven’t played too much in the subcontinent, especially in India,” he said. “I’ve never seen a pitch like this, with so much grass.”
But Parsana was happy with the results he had managed.
“The pitch will last for five days and probably take spin on the final day. I wanted to prepare a sporting wicket that helps both batsmen and bowlers and I’ve managed to do that. In that sense I’m satisfied.”
The Indians are believed to be fuming for not getting the pitch that they wanted, but they’ll later realise Parsana isn’t the villain of the piece. He was merely doing his job, even if it did not win him any praise.